LIHUE — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said Monday he signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the County of Kauai to allow the county to use stadium lights for night football.
“It has always been our goal to establish an agreement with the federal government which allows us to reinstate night football games in a manner that is safe, responsible, and follows our legal obligations as set forth by the Endangered Species Act,” Carvalho said.
Kauai high schools have played football games on Saturday afternoons for the most part since 2009 during shearwater fledgling season, Sept. 15 to Dec. 15.
Bright lights are blamed for attracting and confusing young birds that land and become vulnerable to predators, vehicles or starvation.
Waimea High School will host Kapaa High School during its homecoming football game this Friday night at Hanapepe Stadium.
Night games are also scheduled Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4.
The county has spent millions in recent years to retrofit ballpark lights in county parks.
The upgrades were one of the steps taken by the county to comply with a 2010 Justice Department plea agreement in which the county and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative admitted to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The charges, at the time, blamed the deaths of Newell’s shearwaters on the lighting policies at county facilities.
Officials said seabird fledglings can become confused by stray light during their first nocturnal flight from their nesting burrow to the sea. Some of these birds end up falling inland, where they can become prey for predators or can be struck by cars.